'I was raped...'

A victim of rape speaks about her ordeal and how she won't let it become her daughter's legacy.

I was fourteen when I was first raped. The perpetrator was in his early thirties. My friend and I were walking to the shop to buy bread when a man came out of the long grass. He showed us a gun and told us to do whatever he said or else...so we did. My friend and I went with him. He then started to ask us questions about sex.

We were so uncomfortable because we had never spoken nor thought about sex at our age. He took us to the nearest bush. He told me that he would start with me because I was the clever one. While he was raping me he put his fingers inside my friend’s vagina. When he was done with me he went to my friend and told me that he was coming back to me. I saw an opportunity to take the gun and run, and I did.

While he was chasing me asking for his gun back my friend ran the opposite direction. She got to my mom and told them what had happened. My family then went out looking for me. I ran to a nearby house and they accompanied me home.

When I got home I was told that I should immediately take a bath. After that I was taken to the hospital but then the doctor said he could not make any conclusions because all the evidence had been removed.

My mother told me that I must forget about it because she and my grandmother had been raped. This is something that just happens in the family. After that day it was never talked about. No one asked me how I felt. As a result I felt dirty and had developed a low self esteem.

It happened again
Two years later, I was date raped. Unfortunately, this time I got pregnant. This was only the second time I had sex. I didn’t want a baby because I was a baby. I needed taking care of myself.  Destiny had called and I had to grow up quickly. I became a parent at sixteen.

I never told anyone about the rape. Everyone thought I was an out of control teenager who was sexually promiscuous. I was badly treated by the perpetrator’s family. When his mother heard about the pregnancy she shouted on the street telling people that her son would never impregnate a girl. She said I was the uncontrollable one.

As a result there was feud between the families, when my baby came into the world she was very ill - she had to be hospitalised in the intensive care unit. When I left the hospital that morning I went home and I didn’t know what to feel. I knelt down and prayed. For the first time I prayed to God, to do whatever was right for this baby. A month later she was better and discharged.

I did not have a connection with her at first. I guess I was still in denial. My relationship with my daughter really started when she was four. I realised I was a mother.

I felt that I was nothing, worthless. I dated men and was never able to say no to a man when he wanted to have sex. I knew that he would have it whether I wanted to or not and sometimes I could see them holding a gun and would just give in.

Today, I have found myself after a long journey of looking for me. I have finally found me and I now know that I do not need a man to define who I am. I love my daughter. I know now that God brought her in my life for a reason, and only I can make myself happy and no one else.

* Not her real name. This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.

Have you been a victim of rape? Share your thoughts on Thandeka's ordeals - and how she's overcome them - in the box below.



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